What it's like to use TikTok's tool that helps marketers find the right influencers to hire, which is being quietly beta tested

What it's like to use TikTok's tool that helps marketers find the right influencers to hire, which is being quietly beta tested

  • TikTok's new influencer marketing tool, Creator Marketplace, is designed to help brands and influencers connect, boosting sponsored content on the fast-growing video app.
  • In the past six months, the company has begun sharing more audience and performance data with creators and marketers to compete with analytics tools offered on other platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
  • Creator Marketplace is in beta and currently only available to a few hundred users.
  • Business Insider spoke to marketers with access to the platform to learn more about how it works.

TikTok is one of the most downloaded apps in the US - and has become a juggernaut among Gen Z - but its advertising strategy is still in its infancy.

The social-video app has yet to fully catch on with marketers and influencers who have built steady businesses running sponsorships on Instagram and earning six-figures (or more) through YouTube.

But TikTok wants to change that.

Besides trying to poach advertisers from Facebook (according to Adweek), the company has built out several new analytics tools in recent months geared toward influencer marketing in order to attract creators and brands. In July, it released a Pro Account feature for influencers to better track video performance and see the gender and location breakout of their followers. And for brands, the company is offering more granular data in its new discovery tool, Creator Marketplace.

The marketplace, which launched in September, allows marketers to shop for relevant influencers by sharing the gender, age, location, and size of their audiences. The platform then makes it easy for a marketer to pitch a campaign directly to a creator, though actual contract negotiations are still handled outside the platform.

Before rolling out Creator Marketplace, TikTok's in-house creator team had helped play matchmaker for marketers and influencers, advising creators on best practices and making introductions where relevant. Now the company is seeking to automate that process.

Creator Marketplace is currently only available to a few hundred beta users and mostly features influencers with more than 10,000 followers who have had previous experience working with brands. The company has yet to define requirements for new creators to join the discovery tool once it leaves beta, but it currently requires that all creators be 18 or older. TikTok declined to comment on when the tool would come out of beta.

Business Insider explored the beta version of Creator Marketplace and spoke to marketers who are currently using the platform.

  • Ad agencies and brands log into the platform and use filters to find creators relevant for a particular campaign. They can search for influencers by standard topics like beauty, food, video games, technology, and sports. They can also filter by region and follower count. If a user is searching for creators in the United States, they can drill down to the state level.
  • The platform allows marketers to identify whether an influencer's followers skew male or female, and to see how many of their fans are watching videos on an Apple phone versus a Samsung product or other device. The interface also reveals what percentage of their followers are between 18 and 24 years old, 25 to 34 years old, and older than 35, and how frequently they log into TikTok.
  • Brands who want to reach a larger audience can filter for creators with one million to 10 million followers. Those looking for a more niche audience can search for creators with audiences that are as small as between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, though the current cohort of influencers in the marketplace primarily have more than 10,000 followers.
  • Once they've selected filters, an agency or brand can flip through a creator's top videos by number of views and likes to better understand what their audience cares about. They can also see aggregated data on a creator's total views, likes, comments, shares, and engagement rate. Engagement rate is calculated by combining likes, comments, and shares and dividing by total views.
  • Marketers can determine whether a creator is trending on TikTok over a specific period of time in terms of follower count, video performance, and engagements.
  • Once they've created a target list of creators to partner with, an agency or brand uses the platform's messaging tool to reach out and connect with them directly.
  • Creator Marketplace has a built-in feature where a marketer can include an initial suggested fee, but it doesn't appear to be active in the beta version of the platform.

TikTok isn't currently charging anything to use its Creator Marketplace. Because all contracts and payment terms are handled outside the platform, marketers can use the product to coordinate campaigns on other platforms where TikTok creators appear, like YouTube and Instagram.

Ellie Jenkins, an influencer innovation manager at the marketing firm Mavrck, is a beta user in the marketplace. She said the tool has made it easier to find relevant influencers on TikTok, which she described as being like "the wild west."

"They have really helpful audience insights so we're able to look at a creator from a pretty granular level," she said.

Jenkins uses the marketplace to find influencers by topic, a process she previously approached by searching for hashtags in the app. "That was an extremely manual process," she said. "Looking at the hashtag. Looking at creators who created content within those content verticals, and building out a spreadsheet."

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